Crime and Courts

Virginia Woman Found Guilty of Killing Mother, Sister to Get New Trial

Megan Hargan's defense attorneys say a Fairfax County juror used her rifle at home to do research on the case and shared her findings during deliberations

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A McLean, Virginia, woman who was found guilty of killing her own mother and sister inside their home will get a new trial.

Megan Hargan was found guilty in March on all counts, including first-degree murder, in the shooting deaths of her mother, 63-year-old business executive Pamela Hargan, and her sister, 23-year-old Helen Hargan. Prosecutors said Megan Hargan staged the crime scene as a murder-suicide committed by Helen Hargan.

Hargan's attorneys argued a juror told a defense team investigator that she used her rifle at home to try to determine if it would have been physically possible for the younger sister to shoot herself.

The juror told the investigator that she shared her findings during deliberations, which amounts to jury misconduct because the judge warns jurors not to conduct outside research, the defense argued.

Fairfax County Commonwealth's Attorney Steve Descano told News4 he was disappointed that a juror's inappropriate actions led to the double-murder conviction being vacated, but that his office is committed to getting justice for the victims. A new trial date has not yet been set.

Prosecutors argued money was Megan Hargan’s motive and that she attempted fraudulent money transfers from her mother’s accounts on the day of the killings and the previous day, as she closed on a new home. 

Megan Hargan has maintained that she's innocent.

Attorneys for a woman accused of murdering her mother and sister maintain that their deaths were a murder-suicide. Northern Virginia Bureau Chief Julie Carey was in the courtroom for opening statements..

Crime scene tape surrounded the Hargan home in the 6700 block of Dean Drive the day the mother’s and daughter’s bodies were found. Fairfax County police discovered a gruesome scene that included a rifle wedged between Helen Hargan’s legs.

Police initially described the women’s deaths as a murder-suicide. But the investigation suggested a more chilling family tragedy.

Police arrested Megan Hargan in November 2018 — more than a year after the killings — and said they had determined that she gunned down her mother and sister and then staged the scene to frame her sister as the shooter. 

Megan Hargan’s defense attorneys argued that case was a murder-suicide and Helen Hargan was responsible. Helen Hargan called her boyfriend and said Megan killed her mom, attorneys said in closing arguments. Then, they argue, she killed herself. 

Prosecutors pointed to the single, point-blank gunshot wound in the top of Helen’s head. She was found in a bathroom with the .22-caliber rifle wedged between her legs, with the muzzle pointing up. 

Northern Virginia Bureau Chief Julie Carey reports on emotional testimony in the trial of a McLean woman accused of murdering her mother and sister and staging it to look like a murder-suicide.

“Someone put the gun to the top of her head and pulled the trigger, and it went straight down to her neck. That’s how you get a wound like that,” the prosecutor said. 

Megan Hargan’s defense attorneys told jurors that Helen put the gun to her own head and fired using her toes. She wore a sock to avoid leaving evidence on the trigger, they said. 

The defense argued Helen was upset after her mom cancelled plans to give the 24-year-old a new house, and because her mother disapproved of Helen’s boyfriend. Also, another sister, Ashley Hargan, said in a recorded police interview that Pamela Hargan had suspected Helen of drug use and had planned to hold an intervention. She told detectives her youngest sister had previously attempted suicide.

Megan Hargan’s young daughter was in the home at the time of the shootings.

Ashley Hargan, who’s expecting a child, told jurors on Monday that she hasn’t been able to sleep for almost five years, describing what happened as “terrifying.” 

“My son is going to grow up without knowing a grandmother or aunt. He’s robbed of that,” she said.

A judge will deliver the final sentence at a hearing scheduled for Oct. 28.

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